United States to house some migrant families in hotels moving away from detention centers


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Central American asylum seekers who were flown by McAllen to El Paso, Texas and deported from the United States to Ciudad Juarez


By Ted Hesson and Kristina Cooke

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some migrant families arriving in the U.S. are being accommodated in hotels under a new program managed by nonprofits, according to two people familiar with the plans, a move away from for-profit detention by Democrats and health experts criticized.

Endeavor, a San Antonio-based organization, will oversee so-called “family reception locations” at hotels in Texas and Arizona, the two sources said. In cooperation with other non-profit organizations, the organization will initially provide up to 1,400 beds in seven different branded hotels for families who are considered to be at risk at the border.

The opening of the reception centers would represent a significant shift in the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden from incarcerating migrant families in for-profit institutions.

In January, Biden issued an order to the Justice Department not to renew his contracts with privately operated penal institutions. However, the order did not apply to immigration prisons operated by the United States Immigration and Customs Service (ICE (NYSE :)).

ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to ICE data, there are currently around 900 migrants in two family detention centers in Texas. A third center in Pennsylvania is no longer used to house families.

The number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border has risen in recent weeks as Biden rolled back some of the tough guidelines from former Republican President Donald Trump.

Biden, who took office on January 20, has been criticized by Republicans for reversing this policy. At the same time, some Democrats opposed Biden’s administration reopening a shelter for Trump-era children.

The hotel locations, slated to open in April, offer COVID-19 testing, medical care, catering services, social workers and case managers to help with travel and onward destinations, according to the two sources that asked anonymity to address the matter discuss. The staff is trained to work with children.

It is still unclear whether migrants wear anklets or have to be subject to some other form of surveillance.

The families will arrive at border patrol stations and then dispatched to hotel locations to resume immigration papers currently being handled at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). They could leave the reception centers as early as six hours after arriving when the paperwork is done, they test negative for COVID-19, and transportation has been arranged.

The accommodation of some migrants in hotels was reported by Axios on Saturday.

Endeavors will also operate a new 2,000-bed animal shelter in Texas for unaccompanied children, the sources said.

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